PEMBERVILLE — After advancing to the third round of the playoffs with a win over Waynedale on Saturday, Eastwood football now advances to the regional-semifinals after their slated opponent Oak Harbor forfeited due to coronavirus concerns.
The Oak Harbor athletic department announced the decision via a tweet on Tuesday from their Twitter account @OHRockets.
“Due to COVID-19 concerns and for the well-being of both the Oak Harbor and Eastwood football players, Saturday’s Varsity Football playoff game at Eastwood has been canceled. Eastwood will move on to the next round of playoffs.”
With the cancellation, the Rockets postseason is officially over while the Eagles will move on to play the winner of North Union vs. Liberty-Benton, which will take place on Saturday night.
The forfeit will mark the Eagle’s second bye in just three weeks.
“We’re familiar with Liberty-Benton after playing them in the playoffs last year. Don’t know much about North Union so we will try to find as much out as we can about those teams over the next week,” Eastwood Head Coach Craig Rutherford said.
The game was set to be a playoff rematch after Oak Harbor defeated Eastwood last season in the regional semifinals. The Rockets won that game 34-14 and made it all the way to state semifinals where they would fall to eventual state champion Kirtland 28-14.
While the Eagles are excited to be moving on, there is still a little bit left to be desired from the anticipated rematch.
“Our first reaction was just disappointed that we didn’t get to play this weekend. You know we were really looking forward to this game, we knew it was going to be tough but it was going to be a fun rematch from last year,” Rutherford said.
The Oak Harbor program is one that Eastwood knows well, having played them every season from 2001-16. Rutherford said he feels for the Rocket players whose postseason run ended so abruptly.
“I tried to kind of put myself in their place and just how disappointing it would have been to get that news. We feel bad for those guys,” he said. “We know those Oak Harbor guys really well and we know how disappointing it must be to not finish out this year. Especially when they were playing so well at the end.”
Now the Eagles will go into their time off trying to get a jump on the next round of competition.
“We’ll try to keep practices fast and as focused as we can and then try to use the extra three days that we have to get at least a small jump on game planning for next week,” Rutherford said.